One year of Cell Broadcast in Germany: 219 disaster alerts were transmitted through smartphones


Hamburg. Storms, fires, floods: over the last year, the German population was alerted to hazards via Cell Broadcast 219 times. For one year, Cell Broadcast has now been in use as part of the alerting infrastructure of the Federal Republic of Germany. It was introduced nationwide on 23 February 2023 to enable alerting people to disasters directly through their smartphones.

“From our perspective, Cell Broadcast is a complete success,” states mecom’s Managing Director Alexander Feldmann. “As part of the Modular Warning (MoWaS), which we were commissioned to develop by the Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK) and are operating for the Federal Republic of Germany, Cell Broadcast serves an important purpose. Through this alerting channel, we can reach a great number of people directly.”

“Closely collaborating with public authorities and telecom providers, we were able to introduce Cell Broadcast a year ago. It has been an additional relevant channel for the distribution of alerts in Germany ever since,” adds mecom Managing Director Mandy Best.

Largest number of Cell Broadcast alerts in North Rhine-Westphalia

Since it was introduced one year ago, Cell Broadcast has been triggered roughly once every one and a half days. Smartphone users in North Rhine-Westphalia received most alerts via Cell Broadcast, with cell phones in Germany’s most populous federal state ringing 59 times. The second highest number of Cell Broadcast alerts – a total of 32 – were transmitted in Rhineland-Palatinate, with Bavaria coming in third with 25 uses of the warning system over the past twelve months.

Cell Broadcast has not been used at all so far in the city state of Bremen, while in both Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Saxony-Anhalt, the new technology has only been triggered once since its introduction a year ago.

Fires most common reason for Cell Broadcast alerts

The reasons for triggering alerts via Cell Broadcast are very diverse. Be it the recovery of a bomb from the 2nd World War, forest fires, a failure of the emergency call number, power outages, floods or extreme black ice hazards – in cases of acute danger, the public authorities can alert citizens by sending a message directly to their cell phones.

Over the past year, the most common reason for Cell Broadcast alerts was fires. Alerts were triggered 101 times for this reason. This means that almost every second alert, 45 per cent, was caused by fires. The second most common reason for triggering Cell Broadcast alerts were natural hazards and weather events such as floods and heavy thunderstorms (18 per cent).

But Cell Broadcast alerts were also used to inform citizens about bomb findings and major events that could jeopardise public safety. Over the previous year, twelve per cent of all alerts were due to these topics.

Most alerts issued in June and July

The months with by far the most Cell Broadcast alerts in Germany were June and July 2023. 37 alerts were issued in June and 29 in July. The technology was used 24 times in August 2023 and 23 times in May.

How Cell Broadcast works

In hazardous situations, Cell Broadcast can be used by the fire brigade, the police and disaster protection services. The federal government may use it for civil defence purposes. Alerts can be transmitted directly and specifically to the smartphones of many users. Cell Broadcast is one of many alerting channels that are controlled by the Modular Warning System (MoWaS). MoWaS transmits alerts to numerous connected alerting devices such as TV, radio, alerting apps, digital city billboards, passenger information systems – or cell phones via Cell Broadcast.

In the event of a hazard occurring in a specific area, the responsible authorities can issue an alert via MoWaS, which is then sent to the mobile phone customers’ devices through the mobile phone providers’ networks using Cell Broadcast. All devices that are registered in the radio cells of the respective region and support this technology receive the alert and – depending on the alert level – emit a loud tone. Cell Broadcast even works if there is no data connection, and no app is required to receive Cell Broadcast alerts. The mobile device just needs to be compatible with Cell Broadcast, switched on and ready to receive.

About mecom

mecom Medien-Communikations-Gesellschaft mbH (mecom for short) is a leading player in the fields of high security applications, the transmission of sensitive data and the provision of fail-safe channels for safety-critical communication. The company is also a pioneer in the tamper-proof distribution of alerts in Germany. Headquartered in Hamburg, mecom was founded in 1989 and is a joint venture of the news agencies dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH, dpa-AFX Wirtschaftsnachrichten GmbH, KNA Katholische Nachrichten-Agentur GmbH, GEP Gemeinschaftswerk der Evangelischen Publizistik gGmbH with epd and AFP Agence France-Presse GmbH. dpa is the major shareholder and holds a 50 per cent stake in mecom.

One year of Cell Broadcast: Cell Broadcast alerts by federal state

North Rhine-Westphalia     59

Rhineland-Palatinate          32

Bavaria                                  25

Hesse                                    20

Lower Saxony                      19

Schleswig-Holstein              19

Baden-Wuerttemberg         10

Brandenburg                        8

Saxony                                  7

Thuringia                               7

Hamburg                               6

Berlin                                     3

Saarland                               2

Mecklenburg-West. Pom.  1

Saxony-Anhalt                     1

Bremen                                 0


mecom Medien-Communikations-Gesellschaft mbH

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20148 Hamburg


Telephone: +49 (0)40 4113 32800